Betty Soskin, The Oldest Living Ranger At The National Park, Celebrates Her 100th Birthday

Betty Soskin is a ranger at the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California. She’s also an acclaimed civil rights activist, a published author, a musician, and a businesswoman. Indeed, it goes without saying that she has accomplished quite some impressive feats in this lifetime. And just recently, she turned 100 years old, making her the oldest active ranger in the National Park Service.

Born on September 22, 1921, Soskin is known for imparting her personal story of being a young Black woman who grew up in the Bay Area during World War II. While her family was originally based in Detroit, they relocated to New Orleans in 1924. After surviving the Great Flood of 1927, they eventually settled down in Oakland, California and stayed there ever since.


Soskin then worked as a clerk in a segregated boilermakers union during World War II. As a woman who worked in the wartime industry, she was well aware of the racial discrimination and segregation towards people of color. In fact, she also experienced them first-hand, so she didn’t really identify herself as a “Rosie the Riveter.” At the time, Rosie the Riveter was a media icon that represented the female defense workforce during World War II. Unfortunately, Soskin pointed out that, “That really is a white woman’s story.”



Betty Soskin, the nation’s oldest park ranger, recently celebrated her 100th birthday

Fast forward to 2000, she attended a presentation on the development of the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park. She took it as a responsibility to make people aware of the inequality experienced by the minorities during the war. So, she began working with the National Park Service on a grant. And then four years later, in 2004, she officially took on the role of a park ranger.



Multiple institutions have paid tribute to Soskin in celebration of her centennial birthday

In celebration of her centennial birthday, the park has launched a limited-edition cancellation stamp to pay homage to their oldest active ranger. Aside from the park’s special tribute, a Bay Area middle school has also been renamed in her honor.

The decision to rename Juan Crespi Middle School to Betty Reid Soskin Middle School came after students and faculty found out about the Franciscan missionary’s role in expeditions that led to the oppressive California Mission System in the 1700s.

In an interview, Soskin expressed her aspirations for the school.

“Having a school named for me is more than I ever thought of because it means that a number of children will go into the world knowing who I was and what I was doing here. Maybe it will make a difference.”

Source: Instagram National Park Service